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Becoming B Corp: Driftime Media

In celebration of B Corp Month and this year's theme #ThisWayForward, we'll be releasing three interviews as part of our 'Becoming B Corp' series.

These blogs will showcase three incredible companies, all of which call Projects their business home.

We'll be asking them about their mission, their commitments to people and planet, and how they plan to continue to contribute to the better business movement and make a positive impact on the environment and society.

First up is Driftime, an ethical design and impact agency matching purpose with profit for people and planet with strategy, design and storytelling.

Tell us about the inception of Driftime and your mission?

Both my wife and I started Driftime® in 2016, originally coming from a career in global agencies. Through that experience we had both hit a saturation point, becoming frustrated by the lack of responsibility design had which resulted in us setting up our own agency, putting core values and integrity at its core. Leaving these roles, we legally weren’t allowed to show any of the work we had done, and so the whole thing started simply with a set of core values, a manifesto and promise.

Fast forward 8 years, we’ve gone strength to strength in defining what it means to design towards impact, measure beyond vanity metrics and create long term change from direct actions towards ocean conservation, through to policy change at The White House.

Our mission has always been to empower those seeking to create change in the world and set new standards that benefit people, the planet, and business as a whole. By establishing our own authority as a design and impact agency, we’re able to lead by example, with B Corp being a key component, and influence long term impact through our work and digital empowerment.

How does your work align with your commitment to people and the planet?

Driftime® works exclusively within the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, economic). Aside from our accreditations (B Corp, 1% for the Planet, Living Wage etc.) we adopt a triple bottom line, and have specific criteria when working with a client partner. From initial conversations, their purpose (the core aspects of their brand or business) must be clear, and their intention (what they aim to solve) must be obvious. This typically gives us a good indication of the long term impact we’re collectively looking to achieve, and more importantly where Driftime® fits in. If this isn’t clear or obvious, Driftime® has a democratic approach with the entire team to decide if the partnership is worth pursuing. This allows us to be hyper selective, and have complete responsibility / accountability in the work we produce.

As we embark on a partnership or project, we have our unique methodology (one we’ve developed over the years) that pins the long term impact as the north star. This caters for success in all three pillars (how it affects people, planet and business), and provides an opportunity to redefine what successful business looks like beyond profit alone.

Should any partnership deviate from this, we have specific clauses within our contract that allows us to withdraw ourselves should values be compromised in any way.

Can you highlight some key milestones that Driftime has reached in terms of environmental stewardship and social impact?

Internally, we’ve been able to completely eradicate any emissions through scope 1 and 2 as a business, by adopting lightweight frameworks, tools, and being completely remote and digital first. This means 100% of our energy use falls under scope 3, allowing us to be carbon positive by continually offsetting through vetted partners. Other aspects of stewardship include our policies on minority owned business, providing our services completely (or near) free to advocate a fairer playing field, through to active mentorship both locally and globally to communities that in most cases, don’t have access to leadership within the creative industry.

From an external perspective, we pride ourselves on being the fairy godmother to our clients Cinderella, empowering them as best we can to maximise the potential for impact. There’s a shared risk and ownership to the bigger goals outside of the obvious metrics – for example... 

Our long term partnership with Only One has seen significant impact such as policy change within the US on single-use plastics, through to community members taking 3,444,829 actions or protecting 56 different species, which are just some of the long term changes we’ve been fortunate to be involved with.

Our work with The Quad Investors Network on the other hand, encapsulated a global collaboration between the quad nations (Australia, Japan, India and the US) on sustainable infrastructure, clean energy and innovation, leading to an official announcement at The White House by the Biden administration on its importance within the global economy.

More recently, our work with Art Not Evidence has put a megaphone to a social justice many are unaware of. Specifically, police and prosecutors using the act of writing, performing, or even engaging with rap music to suggest motive, intention, or propensity for criminal behaviour, primarily targeting young black men, who have seen the use of art as evidence in court. By articulating the issue successfully to widely different stakeholders, we’ve been able to put eyes on the subject through major press via DAZED, The Times, Channel 4 News, Rolling Stone UK and many other high profile outlets, putting pressure on government policy.

How does Driftime foster a collaborative and inclusive work environment, both within the company and with external partners, to drive positive change in the community and beyond?

Driftime® has intentionally been set up in a way to provide radical autonomy. This allows every team member to have degrees of risk and decision making power they can own. This ownership and accountability is hugely important, as we each play to our strengths and lean on other members of the team when needed. Having good, but flexible processes help us foster this and maintain a high degree of transparency and handover, resulting in work we feel proud of whilst avoiding stand stills should someone be away.

From a client partner perspective, we approach every relationship as a partner rather than hands for hire. This means we can build trust in the heart of a relationship, challenge our partners in ways that at times feels uncomfortable, and collectively step closer towards some form of impact, which at most times can be messy.

For readers interested in joining the better business movement, what advice or best practices would you offer to individuals or businesses looking to become more sustainable and socially responsible?

To begin, I think it’s important to acknowledge the reason for becoming a responsible business. I believe it should come from a desire to be better and improve, as opposed to simply gaining an accreditation or for the sake of others. From this benchmark, you can  truly and objectively look at where you need to be better as an individual or business, as well as celebrate what you’re already doing well.

Following this, having a good understanding of the nature of your business and what you can control is fundamental to taking ownership and accountability for your outputs, which ultimately, means you can influence and advocate more effectively on the impact you contribute towards. This goes beyond the day-to-day business operations and gives you an opportunity to lead by example, championing what it is you do, and celebrate what you do differently.

How do you actively engage with your local community to create a positive impact? Are there any community-based projects or partnerships that you are particularly proud of?

As a business we try to make ourselves openly available to members of our immediate community. This can be through mentorship, transparency of our process and learnings, sharing of our thinking or more active measures of community engagement – be it our roundtable series in the past, or community wide beach cleans with the B Corp community. Driftime® itself has regular volunteer days where we contribute towards other aspects of the community, such as food farming for refugees at Vital Living, or spending time at Patchwork, a therapeutic care farm that has been specially designed for young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation.

It changes every year, and we come together as a team to proactively think about how we give our time and serve others outside of our day-to-day work.

Finally, as we celebrate B Corp month, can you provide a glimpse into the future aspirations that Driftime has? What are you looking forward to and how will you continue to contribute to the better business movement and make a positive impact on the environment and society?

We have many plans for this year, and one thing that is a constant is the opportunity to lead by example by treating ourselves as guinea pigs. This allows us to push the boundaries of our influence, and continually contribute towards the idea of long term impact through what we can control. This goes hand in hand with being active in our communities through different capacities, whether local or the B Corp community, and readily show up with the idea of giving.

Beyond this, we aim to publish a book on the subject of design and impact, alongside making our impact methodology more widely available, giving others an opportunity to adopt learnings, processes and frameworks that lead to measurable outcomes leading to impact, and redefining what good business looks like today and in the future.

Click here to read the two other blogs in our Becoming B Corp series. You can also read about our own journey and how we balance purpose and profit at Projects here.


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